Twitter Reactions: Rohit, Rahul, Harshal shine as India seals T20I series with convincing win

Twitter Reactions: Rohit, Rahul, Harshal shine as India seals T20I series with convincing win

Indian cricket team
Indian cricket team. (Photo by Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images)

Not even three changes in the New Zealand XI could bring them back to winning ways, as India sealed the fate of the three-T20I series at the earliest juncture on the back of some sensational ball-striking by skipper Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, who killed the chase with a 117-run opening stand after the bowlers tied New Zealand down to 153/6. 

New Zealand threatened to post a total much bigger than that after the kind of start they made, but in stark contrast to the first six overs that produced 64, they could only manage 89 in the next 16 overs courtesy of some smart bowling by India.

Guptill, Mitchell attack

Put in to bat first for the second time in a row, New Zealand openers Martin Guptill and Daryl Mitchell looked to be on a mission. Bhuvneshwar Kumar ended up leaking 14 in his opening over and finished 1/39, but it was that kind of a day when numbers told false stories. 

Kumar found prodigious swing straight up, but luck favoured Guptill, whose edge ran down to third-man for four in the absence of slip, and was reprieved three balls later when KL Rahul could not hold onto his catch off Kumar, who would be taken on by Guptill in the powerplay again on what could only be termed a hapless day for him in the hindsight.

His new-ball partner Deepak Chahar, who returned 1/42 in Jaipur, had his second expensive outing – 1/40 – on the bounce, after he was taken on by Daryl Mitchell, who clarified his intentions with successive boundaries off him. But it was Chahar who broke the opening stand when Guptill, having struck two sixes and three fours in his 25-ball 31, skied a top-edge to Rishabh Pant. In the process, though, Guptill displaced India’s Virat Kohli as the leading run-scorer in T20Is.

India fightback ft. pace off 

Ajit Agarkar had pointed out before the start of the game how taking pace off the ball and cutters are likely to succeed on the abrasive Ranchi surface, and that was precisely the case once India introduced spin and Harshal Patel into the attack. 

Harshal, India’s sixth oldest T20I debutant coming in to replace the injured Mohammed Siraj, was particularly impressive, bringing in the same slower variations to the fore he so adroitly used during his Purple Cap-winning 2021 IPL – which pushed him into national contention – playing a crucial role in New Zealand’s slowdown after a flying start. He had both Daryl Mitchell (31) and Glenn Phillips caught in the deep off slower ones.

Phillips, who was reprieved when Venkatesh Iyer juggled him multiple times at long-off against Axar Patel, showed attacking instincts, hitting three sixes in his 34 off 21, however, that New Zealand fell well short of what they looked in contention of after the rollicking start was thanks to the spin duo of R Ashwin and Axar Patel, who spun a web around the middle-order, claiming 2/45 in their eight overs combined. 

Mark Chapman holed out Axar in the deep for 21, while Ashwin had a reverse-scooping Tim Seifert caught cheaply at short third man. The biggest struggle in the middle, meanwhile, was for James Neesham, who laboured his way to three off 12 balls before nicking Bhuvneshwar behind. 

Rohit, Rahul stand tall

Indian bowlers were seen drying the ball multiple times despite bowling in the first innings, showing clear evidence of dew; with the night deepening, it only became worse for the clueless New Zealand bowlers, who were toyed around by Indian openers as they knocked off 46 runs in the powerplay.

The hunger to hang in did not die for either of them, fueled by the indiscipline of the Kiwis. The duo hit an array of scintillating strokes on either side of the ground, including Rohit’s magnificent pull against Adam Milne in the powerplay, and two sixes off Mitchell Santner in the 10th over. 

Santer could have redeemed himself in the same over, but in a game that would anyways not be remembered for fielding standards, Trent Boult dropped him off a rather difficult chance. Rohit dealt in sixes, hitting five in all, while his partner Rahul struck two, one of which was belief-defyingly flat that brought up his half-century. Meanwhile, the duo notched up their fourth hundred-run partnership, which was broken no sooner than the 14th over when Rahul was undone by Tim Southee for 65 off 49.

Stumble before going home

India brought the memories back from Jaipur, where they stumbled right before reaching the finishing line, when Southee, bowling the 16th, had Rohit caught in the covers after a 36-ball 55, before Suryakumar Yadav played him on in the same over, but alongside Venkatesh Iyer, Rishabh Pant (12 off 6) finished the game with back-to-back sixes against Neesham, with 16 balls and seven wickets to spare. 

Here’s how Twitter reacted: